Today, 21 April, Queen Elizabeth turns 96 and crosses another historic milestone.
To celebrate her birthday she has flown to her Norfolk estate, where she will be joined by family and friends. She is likely to stay at Wood Farm cottage, much loved by her late husband Philip, in the company of family. The occasion will be greeted, as is tradition, by shots fired in London.
The move indicates an acceptable state of health for the sovereign, who in this 2022 will seal the Platinum Jubilee of her 70 years of reign, after a whole series of external appointments cancelled due to the walking difficulties she has shown in recent times and the fatigue following a Covid infection which she overcame at the end of February.
But, according to tradition, the Queen will wait until the second Saturday in June for the official celebrations. This is an ancient custom within the British royal family dating back to King George II in 1748.
The sovereign’s birthday was in November, but as the monarch’s birthday was an important public event attended by the population, better weather conditions were needed. King George therefore had the idea of combining his birthday celebrations with the annual military parade. King George is also the head of the armed forces. The parade has been held in June for more than 250 years and is called ‘Trooping the Colour’, the Parade of the Flag. This year the celebrations are scheduled for 2 June. The parade starts and ends at Buckingham Palace and usually features over 1400 soldiers, 200 horses and a band of 400 musicians.